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15 charities will get one million each, including Right to Play pictured here.

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The Slaight Family Foundation, a supporter of humanitarian and cultural causes, is donating $15-million to 15 international organizations dedicated to improving human rights. The donation to mark International Women’s Day on March 8 targets issues facing women and girls, including child marriages, sex trafficking, legal support and access to health care.

“The aim of this gift is to improve conditions for women and girls living in difficult circumstances, who represent some of the world’s most vulnerable populations," foundation founder Gary Slaight said in a statement. “The projects we are funding will leverage the expertise of these vital organizations to protect women and girls in the most fragile countries from direct harm, rebuild the lives of those who have been unjustly affected by conflict, deprivation and disease and give them the tools and support they need to survive and thrive.”

The recipients include the Canadian Red Cross, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, War Child Canada, Right to Play and 10 other non-profit organizations. The groups work mainly in impoverished or conflict-affected areas. The funds will go to specific projects such as Canadian Feed the Children’s creation of a livelihood and gender equality fund that champions the human rights of girls and women in Ethiopia. World Vision, a global relief, development and advocacy organization, will implement a program dedicated to reducing child marriages in Mali.

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According to the founder and president of War Child Canada, people are prone to thinking locally rather than globally. “We tend to be a little inward-looking and believe that we can close borders and build walls, as if that somehow is going to be an effective strategy,” Samantha Nutt told The Globe and Mail. “But when we look at something like the coronavirus, we see just how artificial borders really are.”

The $15-million gift builds on a similar initiative in 2017 that saw $7-million go to seven NGOs, including War Child, Human Rights Watch, World Vision and Partners in Health Canada.

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As it happens, the coronavirus is curtailing the scope of events associated with International Women’s Day this year. The annual two-week UN Commission on the Status of Women, for example, will be scaled back to just one day next week due to the global outbreak. A procedural meeting on March 9 will adopt a draft political declaration marking 25 years since the Beijing Declaration on the equality of men and women. But a dozen associated events in New York and a full meeting on issues such as the global gender pay gap and low political participation rates by women have been called off.

The $15-million gift builds on a similar initiative in 2017 that saw $7-million go to seven NGOs, including War Child, Human Rights Watch, World Vision and Partners in Health Canada. The donations funded seven projects in different regions, supporting women and children in Thailand, grandmothers and orphans in sub-Saharan Africa and victims of war and human-rights violations in Cambodia.

Mr. Slaight is a media mogul with a long history of philanthropic activities in a number of health- and arts-related concerns. He is currently the president and CEO of Slaight Communications.

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